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Course Details

Spring 2018-2019
JRN 260 (SA)   na, npdf

The Media in America - What to Read and Believe in the Digital Age

Joe Stephens

This seminar will explore the challenges and opportunities that today's rapidly evolving media landscape presents to freedom of the press, and to the democracy that the media serve. Discussion will focus on where news comes from and how citizens can best assess the credibility of individual news reports. Students will evaluate how successful traditional mass-media outlets and emerging digital media have been at accomplishing the lofty goals embodied in the First Amendment. They will craft strategies for determining their own personal media diet and work to develop new models for serious, sustainable news ventures.

Sample reading list:
Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, The Elements of Journalism
Alex Jones, Losing the News
Dan Gillmor, Mediactive
Websites of, The New York Times, The Washington Post
Websites of new-media outlets, ProPublica, The Marshall Project, BuzzFeed, Vice
Social media journalism, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, other sources

Reading/Writing assignments:
About 6 to 8 hours of preparation a week, consisting of reading and writing. Short journalistic writing assignments due most weeks. One long-form final article due by Dean's Date (May 14). Bi-weekly individual meetings with professor required. Course may include an optional trip to a major news organization.

Papers - 70%
Class/Precept Participation - 30%

Other Requirements:
Not Open to Graduate Students.

Prerequisites and Restrictions:
If the course fills, you may email Margo Bresnen, Journalism program manager, at to be put on a wait list. Please include a paragraph explaining your interest in the course. If you have submitted an application for the JRN certificate but are unable to enroll in a seat for certificate students, email Margo Bresnen at

Other information:
Joe Stephens, director of the Program in Journalism and a Ferris Professor of Journalism in Residence, is a veteran investigative reporter for The Washington Post who has reported and conducted journalism training in the U.S., Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. He has won many journalism honors, including three George Polk Memorial Awards. He also is a three-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Reserved Seats:
First Year Ugrd Only 4
Sophomores Only 4
Juniors Only 3
JRN Certificate Students Only 2


Schedule/Classroom assignment:

Class numberSectionTimeDaysRoomEnrollmentStatus
41459 S01 01:30:00 pm - 04:20:00 pm W   Henry House   15   Enrolled:16 Limit:16 Closed